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Odd Lots

  • So here, on the eve of the end of a year I’d just as soon forget, the last Odd Lots of 2009. Carol’s in Chicago and I’m staying home tonight with a lapful of dogs and a good book, which on this occasion will be Brian Fagan’s The Long Summer, his history of the Holocene Warm Period. Carol will be back on Saturday. Getting tired of meat. May have some mashed potatoes tonight.
  • The Christmas tree is no longer taking water, and I perceive that’s it’s begun to dry out. We brought it home on December 10, so it has been standing guard in our living room for three weeks. This may be a new record for us. We’ve had trees stand (a little) longer, but their final two weeks were a rain of needles.
  • The day after Carol and I showed Carol’s mom our Christmas tree via Skype video call, this Zits strip was published. (Thanks to Roy Harvey for letting me know–I read Zits but generally in the newspaper, and not every day.)
  • 2009 is ending with 260 sunspotless days. 2008 had 266, and December was the most active month of the year, so we’re guessing that the Long Solar Minimum is mostly over. Can 15M skip be far behind?
  • Ray Kurzweil has announced a new ebook software reader package called Blio. Not a lot of detail and no software to download yet, but it’s going to be a free product, with versions for both mobile devices and the desktop. Introduction will be at CES next week.
  • The ebook technology to watch in 2010 is Qualcomm’s Mirasol, which promises color without sacrificing battery life or readability. Looks good, but what we need much worse are larger displays and higher resolution.
  • Once again, Bruce Schneier nails it: The bulk of our antiterrorist strategies rely on magical thinking. This is not the way to win; alas, magical thinking appears to be a pervasive part of modern culture, and I’m not talking about Harry Potter.
  • Recent discussions of digital media piracy reminded me of the 2005 article in Wired describing the media piracy “scene” ecosystem (topsites, couriers, races, etc.) and how it works. Big Media may be paranoid, but that doesn’t mean that no one is out to get them.
  • Pete Albrecht photographed two UFOs flying in formation (big animated GIF) while taking a long-exposure shot of M42, the Orion Nebula, through his big Meade telescope. Nothing spooky or alien about it, but before you click on the explanation (in his December 28 entry) think for a second and see if you can figure it out on your own.
  • From the Words I Didn’t Know Until Yesterday Department: murse, more often called a “man bag,” which is basically a purse carried by a guy.
  • Ditto above: prepper , a person who prepares for the end of the world by stockpiling peanut butter etc. They called themselves survivalists until survivalism became equated in the public mind with psychos packing machine guns; watch for the word to vanish when 2012 ends but the Earth is still here. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)

One Comment

  1. Carol Pruitt says:

    Hubby and I went to my niece’s house today for the family Christmas celebration. When it came time to leave, my brother was happy to retrieve Mom’s coat from the bedroom, but flatly refused to bring her purse. His explanation was that he doesn’t want to turn into “one of those old guys that walk around a store carrying their wife’s purse.”

    The only reason I can think of for the word “murse” is to allow a man to carry a purse without carrying a “purse.”

    Hopefully this silliness will run its course eventually, and if a man wants to carry his belongings in something larger than a wallet but smaller than a backpack, then he will simply carry a purse. I’m reminded of something I’ve read, that when the first female doctoral candidates were awarded their degrees, there was some serious discussion over what they should be called. Surely not “Doctor” — that was a male title! How about “Doctress”?

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